Study Sheet for I Corinthians 9:1-18 (click here for Study Notes)
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus or Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
This is my defense to those who sit in judgment o me. Don't we have the right to food and drink? Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?
Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an oz while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that god is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it. (NIV)
"Am I not free? Am I not an apostle?" Paul asks at the beginning of this chapter.
1. Why does Paul underscore his apostleship again?
2. Was Paul's "apostle" status different from the other apostles'? If so, how? (see I Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor 12:12; I Cor. 15:8)
3. How are the Corinthians themselves the validation of Paul's apostleship? (I Cor. 3:6, 4:15; 2 Cor. 3:2,3)
Apparently people were criticizing Paul's ministry. They questioned his apostle status, and he defended himself by comparing himself to the other apostles. In verses 3-12 Paul defends the right of a minister to receive support for his work.
1. Who was Barnabas? (see Acts 3:36; 9:19-27; 11:19-30; 13:1-4; 15:36-41)
2. Besides travelling with him, what significant thing did Barnabas do for Paul? (Acts 9:19-27)
3. When Paul says, "Don't we have the right to food and drink.or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living," what is he really saying to the Corinthians? (see Acts 18:3)
Paul uses three metaphors to express his point in verse 7: soldiers do not serve at their own expense, those who plant vineyards get to eat its crop, and a shepherd (or cowherd) has the privilege of drinking milk from the animals.
1. Soldiers, vintners, and shepherds have different demands and job descriptions. What elements of Christian work does each illustrate? (2 Tim. 2:3 ,4; Deut. 20;6; Prov. 27:18; I Cor. 3:6,8)
2. Paul refers to Deuteronomy 25:4 where God says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Then he says, "Is it about the oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us" The plowman and the thresher ought to be able to thresh with the expectation that they will share in the harvest. In this farming metaphor, to whom does the harvest belong?
3. Why do the laborers have any right to expect to share in the harvest, and what actually is their share?
"Those who work in the temple," Paul says, "get their food from the temple.In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. But I have not used any of these rights."
1. Why do you think "the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel"? (see Luke 10:1-7; I Timothy 5:17,18; Philippians 2:29; I Thessalonians 5:12)
2.What is Paul's message to the believers regarding their spiritual mentors?
"I have not used any of these rights," Paul asserts. "And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach."
1. Why did Paul choose not to receive financial support from the Corinthian church, accepting gifts from others in order to serve the Corinthians? (II Cor. 11:7-12; 12:13-15)
2. What does Paul mean when he says if he preaches voluntarily he will receive a reward, but if not voluntarily, he's simply discharging the trust committed to him? (I Cor.3:8, 14; 4:1; Gal. 2:7; Col 1:25)
3. What is his reward for preaching voluntarily?
1. Many of us grew up supporting the ministry in denominationally prescribed ways. How does this passage in I Corinthians differ from the way you have been accustomed to thinking about ministerial support?
2. How is God calling you to use your time and your money in ministry?
3. In what ways do you need to be more generous or sensitive to those who minister to you?
The name "Barnabas" (verse 6) means "one who encourages or exhorts". (New Bible Dictionary)
1. Who has been a Barnabas in your life?
2. To whom are you a Barnabas?
3. What issues in your life is God addressing through the encouragement
or exhortation of a fellow brother or sister?
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